Testosterone May Guide Women's Careers

"There are lifestyle factors that permanently increase or decrease testosterone," Zingales said. "For example, married men tend to have a lower level of testosterone than unmarried men."

"An interesting further study would be to look at either men or women who are treated with testosterone for medical reasons and see if they change their risk aversion," Zingales said.

But the science lands on the nature versus nurture debate, as a growing group of financial experts are calling for more risk-adverse women to get into the financial trading scene.

"The financial world is predominantly young males -- if you have one section of the population isolated, you tend to get extreme behavior," said John Coates of the Judge Business School and department of physiology, development, and neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, England.

Do We Still Want Risk-Takers on Wall Street?

"I think it's important, when looking at hormones and finance, to not equate finance with a single trait; like risk, for example," Coates said.

Although the business world tends to reward short-term, high-risk traders more than successful long-term analysts (whose ranks tend to be more women than men), Coates and others say that might be the reason why the world economy is down the tubes.

"I do think, generally speaking, women are more risk adverse," said Stephanie Hauge, president of the Financial Women's Association in New York City. "But I think in a business environment, it's good to have a balance.

"I think what happened in the environment we're all recovering from is we had a huge proponent on the risk side and not enough on the risk-adverse side."

Regina Barr of the board of directors of Financial Women International said, traditionally, female attributes could contribute to whether most women were "risk adverse."

"If you look at the industry as a whole, I think that banking and financial services are relationship-oriented and women are very relationship-oriented," Barr said. "I think there is a ton of opportunity for women."

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